I recently mixed my first album entirely on my laptop. Yeah, maybe I'm a decade behind the curve but I also own a studio and have done a majority of my work there. On this job we were attempting to cut and mix a record in three days and we didn't get to the mixing part in time. I offered the group to option of me mixing it at home. Benefits? No studio rates, just my hourly rate. Recallable mixes. Plus the timeline: They had a mastering date set and there was no way I'd be able to return to their town or elsewhere to mix it
Okay, I will admit that I summed four stereo pairs though a Dangerous D-Box and I DIDN'T do a comparison between mixing completely in the box or summing - I just don't do a lot of that sort of stuff I guess, which is why I rarely review gear in Tape Op
anymore. But anyway, I did kind of like the process of mixing this way. The band wasn't present, so if I had been mixing on a console without them there we probably would have spent way more money and time to do full recalls and shit. This way I could email an MP3 to them and the next day make a few adjustments and get the mixes how the band wanted to hear them. This process was pretty cool. I'm listening to the first round of masters right now and they sound damn good.
What I'm realizing/feeling is that (once again) so much of the process of recording has to do with the creative choices made along the way, and not so much about the gear itself. It still sounds like the records I make. I tracked the band very au natural, the only compression was on bass overdubs and I think I might have EQ'd the snare a little. The real choices were the wonderful live drum room, mic picks and placement, song arrangement (which we had gone over earlier via email), instrument choices and picking (and editing) the best takes. All these choices are what makes a session come together - not just the fact of how it was mixed or what format it was cut to. Keep that in mind...
PS: For all of you with or considering a home studio... make sure you have good monitors, headphones and a monitor controller in place before you worry about anything else. Get comfortable with the space in which you listen to these monitors and listen to a lot of music in this spot. When it comes time to working in this same space you will know so much more about what you are hearing. Believe me!
Home Setup used: ADAM A7 monitors, Dangerous D-Box summing and monitoring, Audio-Technica ATH-M50 headphones, MacBookPro, Digidesign MBox 2Pro, Apogee Mini-DAC, SPL Dynamaxx, Neutrik NYS-SPP-L 1/4" patchbay, Astrid the Cat
Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.